Hypergrid Adventurers Club visits a Myst and Uru inspired world: Devokan Trust on OSGrid

Yesterday, the Hypergrid Adventurers Club visited OSGrid to explore Devokan Tao, the central hub of a collection of regions called Devokan Trust.

The entire area is inspired by Myst and Uru.

About 10 of us made the journey across four different grids, and you can follow in our footsteps by looking at our travel plan.

Our guide was Dot Macchi, who explained the history of the project to create a Myst/Uru inspired world built by many different people.  It’s an amazing collaborative effort.

What we found were places of such stunning artistry and subtle aesthetics that I’m at a loss for words to describe them any further.  So I’ll simply share pictures.

Thank you again, Dot, for spending so much time with us and explaining the beautiful storyline behind it all.

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Using Virtual Worlds to Reduce Stress

relaxation training in a virtual world

A fascinating paper was just published on the topic of using virtual worlds to train people in stress reduction techniques.

Read the full paper here: “The Feasibility and Impact of Delivering a Mind-Body Intervention in a Virtual World

The paper describes a pilot project using a virtual space to bring volunteers through a mind-body medical intervention. The volunteers learned how to elicit the relaxation response, a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress.  Typically, people learn how to do this in physical-world training sessions.  But in this case, they were able to use a 3d simulation in a group learning environment.

Some of the challenges they faced in the course of the project included:

“…although it is indeed feasible to present this type of program in a virtual world, the user interface is problematic. Recruitment was limited to individuals with prior experience in Second Life since the interface was known to be a barrier to entry. Even with such inclusion criteria, some of the less experienced users had problems that likely affected their participation.”

and

“…in the absence of remote sensing technology, it is very difficult to know if the participants are taking part in the exercises or successfully eliciting the relaxation response.”

Our next-generation multiuser virtual world platform Jibe addresses all of these challenges.  When you set up your own Jibe world, you have complete control over the user interface and can customize/simplify it however you wish.  A Jibe world can also be embedded in any web page, which makes it as easy as possible for people to access.  And finally, we’ve build our Jibe platform from the ground up so that it can directly interface with remote sensing technology.

Due to the positive results from this pilot study,  Dr. Daniel B. Hoch and his team are planning to conduct further research.  It will be very exciting to see techniques like this evolve to improve the quality of life of people around the world.  And here at ReactionGrid, we’ll keep building the technological platforms that can help make it all happen.

UPDATE 4/6/2012: Here’s a press release about the research project from Massachusetts General Hospital with additional quotes by Dr. Hoch.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

An Educator’s Field Trip to a Jibe Virtual World

Marianne Riis works at the Multi-User Virtual Environments Research (MUVER) Lab at Aalborg University Copenhagen in Denmark.

She’s teaching a class focused on interpersonal Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) this spring, and recent topics have included avatar-based communication.

Marianne decided to bring her 89 student class on a field trip into my demo Jibe world.  Here’s her detailed report.

I think it’s fantastic when educators share experiences like this.  It helps educators and students learn from each other, and it also helps virtual world platform providers learn how to make their technology as useful to educators as possible.

Thank you, Marianne!

Marianne Riis and her students visit my Jibe world

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Presentation at 2012 Follow the Sun: “Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds”


Follow the Sun 2012 is a free online conference that runs from March 27-30.  Here’s a summary from their website:

“Digital Futures Institute, Beyond Distance Research Alliance, Athabasca University, and our commercial partners are proud to provide this year’s 48-hour, online learning festival at no charge to all participants. The theme of this year’s conference moves beyond educational technology to examine knowledge development and exchange across the disciplines.”

I’ll be giving an online presentation on Thursday March 29th at 2:30am EDT (yes, that’s 2:30am).  The topic will be “Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds.”

Here are my slides on SlideShare to give you a preview of what I’ll be talking about, and I’ll update this blog post with a recording of my presentation after the conference is over.

Update 3/29/2012: Here’s the recording of my presentation.

John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts – Virtual Broad Art Museum in Jibe

The Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA) at Ball State University is a research and design studio exploring virtual reality, simulation, games and interactive interfaces.

IDIA been commissioned to design and build a virtual presence and artworks for the upcoming Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.

And they’re building it with ReactionGrid’s Jibe platform!

For more information, check out IDIA’s project website.

John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Virtual Worlds Presentation for 2012 Virtual Enterprise Conference at Glyndŵr University

The Virtual Enterprise Conference at Glyndŵr University brings together a diverse range of web entrepreneurs, students and academics to discuss the opportunities for e-entrepreneurship offered by virtual worlds and the social web.  It’s hosted each year by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Glyndŵr University.

On Feb 23 at this year’s conference, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on Best Practices in Virtual Worlds.  Here’s the full video.

The Right Tool for the Right Job: Best Practices for Virtual Worlds from John Lester on Vimeo.

You can grab a copy of my slides on Google, and you can visit the Jibe world featured in my presentation by going here.

Thanks again to Matthew Draycott from the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Glyndŵr University for inviting me to speak.  It was a great opportunity!

John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc.

Looking Forward: My New Role at ReactionGrid – Chief Learning Officer

It’s been a year since I started working at ReactionGrid, and my initial role with the company was Director of Community Development.

As of this month, I’m very excited to announce that I have been promoted to Chief Learning Officer.

As Chief Learning Officer, I’ll be responsible for all aspects of knowledge management at ReactionGrid, both internal and external.  My primary responsibility will be to help ReactionGrid identify, evaluate and effectively use a combination of the right knowledge management tools and best practices.  Educating our customers is also critical, so I’ll be focusing a great deal on ways to help our customers learn to successfully use our products and share their strategies for success.  I want to make sure everyone has the necessary knowledge and confidence to succeed at their own goals.

I’ll also be helping guide the company in feature prioritization and R&D efforts.  By listening carefully to our customers and the community at large, we can make smarter decisions about how to evolve our virtual world platforms.

Lastly, I’ll be working with new clients on large-scale virtual world projects, focusing on grant proposals, project management and plenty of hands-on Jibe development work.  I’ve been using our Jibe platform for only a few months, but I’ve quickly learned how to do quite a bit with it.  To be perfectly honest, this fact is less a testimony to my own skills and more an indication of just how simple our Jibe platform is to learn and use effectively.

Taking on this new leadership role brings with it a great deal of new responsibility.  I am now part of the executive team directly responsible for helping ensure the future success of the company.  It means a great deal to me that our CEO and the rest of the management team have the confidence in me to offer me this wonderful opportunity.  Thank you.

I strongly feel that virtual world platforms are poised for broader adoption, providing new opportunities for learning and community development on a global scale.  The team at ReactionGrid is simply the smartest and most driven group of people I’ve ever worked with in my life (and I’ve worked with some very smart people in the past).  I consider it a privilege each day to be part of the ReactionGrid team.

And by working hand in hand with our community of innovative colleagues and pioneering customers, we’re going to build those virtual world platforms of the future.

Together, we’re going to change the world.  I’m confident that we’ll do it.

Do or do not.  There is no “try.”

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc.

Hypergrid Adventurers Club visits OSGrid home of LindaKelllie.com – Jan 19 2012

Today, the Hypergrid Adventurers Club took a trip from jokaydiaGRID to the OSGrid home of Linda Kelllie, a talented content creator who gives away a wide range of excellent items (including OAR files of entire regions) on her website LindaKellie.com.

Read on for a summary, some pics, and instructions on how you can make the journey yourself.

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Hypergrid Adventurers Club visits Dune-inspired science fiction world – January 10 2012

The Hypergrid Adventurers Club took a trip from jokaydiaGRID to OSGrid, where we visited an amazing Dune-inspired Sci-Fi area created by Lani Global Systems.

Read on for a summary, some pics, and instructions on how you can make the journey yourself.  Be sure to mind the sandworms.

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My Opensim Grid “Pathlandia”

More pics of Pathlandia

Multiuser virtual worlds are a passion of mine, and I continue to research and explore their use as platforms for building communities around creative expression, immersive education and interpersonal support. I also do consulting and contracting work using the Opensimulator virtual world platform, so please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need guidance.

To help with my exploration of interconnected multiuser virtual worlds, I’ve been running my own Hypergrid-enabled Opensimulator grid running out of my home since 2012.

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